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Green Group Tests Facebook With Ad Claiming Conservatives Back Green New Deal

Politics
Green Group Tests Facebook With Ad Claiming Conservatives Back Green New Deal
The video of the ad is still available on The Really Online Lefty League's Facebook page, with a disclaimer that it is false. The Really Online Lefty League / Facebook screenshot

In a test of Facebook's willingness to stop the spread of false information, a left-leaning PAC posted an ad on the social media platform that claimed South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham supported the Green New Deal. It was flagged and subsequently taken down by Facebook, according to CNET.



The move shows that political ads purchased by political groups are not exempt from fact checking, but ones bought by politicians are, as CNET reported.

The ad in question ran on Friday as a stunt from the left-leaning political action committee, or PAC, The Really Online Lefty League. It features Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon talking about protecting resources before shifting to Sen. Lindsey Graham and seamlessly splicing his speeches to make it seem like the staunch conservative is supportive of the Green New Deal, as CNN reported.

"From a Republican point of view, I think we need to look at the science, admit that climate change is real. Simply put, we believe in the Green New Deal," Graham says in the ad.

In the past, Graham has dismissed the proposal to the overhaul the country's energy infrastructure to renewables as "crazy economics" and claimed that Democrats are willing to destroy the economy to save the environment, as EcoWatch reported.

The video of the ad is still available on The Really Online Lefty League's Facebook page, though it runs there with a disclaimer that it is false.

The new ad was triggered in response to a testy congressional hearing last week where, New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez grilled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about several of his company's policies, including its hands-off approach to political falsehoods.

"Could I run ads targeting Republicans in primaries saying that they voted for the Green New Deal?" Ocasio-Cortez asked Zuckerberg. "I mean, if you're not fact-checking political advertisements, I'm just trying to understand the bounds here."

"Congresswoman, I don't know the answer to that off the top of my head," Zuckerberg replied. "I think probably." He then elaborated, "I think lying is bad, and I think if you were to run an ad that had a lie, that would be bad. That's different from, in our position, the right thing to do to prevent your constituents or people in an election from seeing that you had lied."

Facebook's policy not to take down ads with completely false information that politicians pay for has been criticized by presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden, according to The Guardian.

"When I saw the video of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez asking Zuckerberg if she could advertise that her Republican opponents supported the Green New Deal and he said, 'probably,' I thought, 'well, gosh, we should test that,'" Adriel Hampton, the man behind the video, told Newsweek.

Hampton submitted the video as an advertisement to Facebook and it was approved overnight without questions, according to Newsweek.

Lead Stories, Facebook's fact-checking partner, posted on Saturday that it rated the ad as false, but added that a lawmaker like Ocasio-Cortez could run the ad since Facebook doesn't send posts from politicians to third-party fact checkers, as CNET reported.

"People believe it, that's what's just shocking. A lot of people think it's real, and that's what frightens me," said Hampton, as Newsweek reported. "That's what I think is problematic, and I think that Congress needs to take it incredibly seriously."

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A net-casting ogre-faced spider. CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics / CC BY-SA 3.0

Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.

But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

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